A decorative plant we often see at different sites is the umbrella grass that literally looks like the name suggests. They’re fully green plants with thin and sharp leaves and stems.
However, although these plants look very pretty as decoration, they’re also often seen abruptly growing in lawns or riverbanks and eventually taking over the whole space.
That is when you need to get rid of these plants as they have many harmful sides that will not be suitable for your property. In this article, I will tell you more about the plant, how to get rid of umbrella grass, and why they’re harmful. Read more below to find out:
A Brief History of The Umbrella Grass
Umbrella grass has various names. Its scientific name is Cyperus Alternifolius. On the other hand, it is also commonly called Umbrella Sedge, Umbrella palm, or umbrella papyrus. Seeing the name umbrella so many times, you might have guessed by now where this name comes from.
Umbrella grass gets the name umbrella because it looks exactly like it. The plant is around 40 to 100 cm tall and has a long stem that spreads into a floret, which looks like an umbrella.
These plants always grow in moist or wet soil. So, it is usual to see them at a riverbank or near a pond. They also grow in yards during the rainy season as animals or other factors end up carrying the seed to these places.
These sedges look very attractive, so many people like to use these grass plants as decorative. Moreover, they don’t need much light or temperature to grow, making them ideal houseplants. These sedges will live anywhere as long as they get enough water.
An interesting fact about umbrella sedge is that it is one of the few plants that does not die when overwatered. So, you can water it as much as you want, and the plant will enjoy it more.
Why Is Umbrella Grass Harmful?
Yes, these grasses may look very pretty from the outside, but they have many drawbacks in reality. Some of the demerits of this plant are:
They Are Invasive
Umbrella sedges are, unfortunately, invasive plants that can grow out of nowhere in unfamiliar lands and yet take over the whole area in no time.
As I mentioned before, as long as this plant gets the water and other nutrients it needs, it rapidly increases its growth and reproduces quickly.
These grasses have rhizomes instead of roots, and seeds grow in those rhizomes. The seeds then quickly spread out, generating new plants at an accelerating rate.
As a result, native plants cannot survive normally, and their growth is hindered. You may possibly see that an area had become full of umbrella grass in no time, whereas before, many other plants existed.
Yes, umbrella sedges are toxic plants that can harm humans and animals. If humans consume these plants, they may get various health problems like irritation, stomach ache, digestive problems, allergies, etc.
In domestic animals, the plant has had reactions like vomiting, pain, etc. That’s why it is best not to keep these grasses at home if you have pets.
How To Get Rid Of Umbrella Grass?
Due to the significant disadvantages of umbrella sedges, many people prefer to completely discard and get rid of them if it grows in their yard. It is not a very beneficial plant to have and acts more like a weed to hinder the well-being of your garden.
That’s why I am about to tell you the two most effective ways of removing umbrella sedges from your property. Let’s take a look below:
1. Use Herbicides
Herbicides are weedkillers that have been the solution to removing unwanted plants for generations. For umbrella sedges, glyphosate is the best solution.
Spray some Roundup or other brands of glyphosate on the umbrella sedges and wait a few weeks to see the results. The grass absorbs the solution and then slowly spreads to its stems, eventually killing the plant.
When spraying the chemical, be careful not to spray on other plants as much as possible. As glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide, it kills all plants it comes in touch with. It also eradicates insects if there are any.
So, make sure your spraying is within a restricted area and wear protective gear to not come in touch with it. You can also use Halosulfuron-methyl herbicide on these grasses as they’ve also proved to be very effective in killing them.
2. Physical Removal
Many garden owners feel uncomfortable using herbicides to remove umbrella sedges as they harm the other plants nearby if in contact. If you belong to that group, worry not, as I have a solution for you.
Use your hands and garden equipment to remove the sedges! This is more of a traditional and physically challenging way to do the work, but the results are surely fruitful.
Especially if your sedges still haven’t grown enough, it is much better just to use the mechanical method. I like to handpick my sedges as well. All you have to do is water the soil around the grass for a bit.
The water will soften and loosen the soil around the roots of the umbrella grass. Next, use your hands and reach out to the bottom of the grass to softly pull out the plant from the rhizomes.
Make sure not to pull with too much force as it can rip the grass off from between, and the roots and seeds will be left underneath, failing the whole mission.
If it is too hard to reach the rhizome, take spades and garden forks to dig the entire thing by cutting through it. And voila! That is how you can easily mechanically remove umbrella grass.
Cover the affected area with black plastic or a dense layer of mulch to prevent sunlight from reaching the plants. This will eventually kill the umbrella grass. Here are the steps for smothering umbrella grass using mulch or black plastic:
- Remove any debris, such as leaves, sticks, or rocks, from the area where the umbrella grass grows. This will make it easier to cover the area with mulch or plastic.
- Spread a thick layer of mulch or cover the area with black plastic. Ensure that the mulch or plastic is in full contact with the ground and that no light can penetrate through the plants.
- If using plastic, secure the edges with rocks, bricks, or other heavy objects to prevent them from lifting or blowing away.
- Check the area regularly to ensure that the mulch or plastic remains in place. Replenish the mulch or replace the plastic as needed to maintain its coverage.
- The umbrella grass will eventually die from a lack of sunlight. This process may take several months, so be patient.
- After the umbrella grass has died, remove the dead plants and any remaining roots. Repeat the process if new shoots appear.
When using smothering, be mindful of the impact on any desirable plants growing in the area. Ensure that the mulch or plastic does not come into contact with the roots of these plants.
4. Preventing Regrowth
After removing the umbrella grass, take measures to prevent it from growing back, such as removing any remaining roots, regularly pulling any new shoots, and maintaining healthy growth of desirable plants in the area to outcompete the umbrella grass. Here are the steps for preventing regrowth of umbrella grass:
- After removing the dead or dying umbrella grass plants, cut off all above-ground growth, including stems, leaves, and flowers.
- Use a shovel or similar tool to remove as much of the root system as possible. If the roots are extensive and difficult to remove, consider using a rototiller to chop them up.
- Apply a 2–3-inch layer of mulch to the area, taking care not to cover any desirable plants growing in the area. The mulch will help to suppress any new shoots from emerging.
- Regularly check the area for any new shoots of umbrella grass or other weeds and pull them out as soon as they appear.
- Encourage the growth of desirable plants in the area by watering and fertilizing them regularly. A healthy and diverse plant community will help to outcompete any new shoots of umbrella grass.
- If new shoots of umbrella grass reappear, repeat the steps of removing the shoots, applying mulch, and promoting the growth of desirable plants. With persistence, you should be able to keep the umbrella grass under control.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Does umbrella grass come back?
Umbrella sedges will definitely come back if you don’t remove them entirely from the roots. If even one or two rhizomes are left down beneath the soil, the plant will regrow and populate your property again. That’s why you must make sure that you’ve removed them fully.
2. When should I remove my sedge?
The best time to remove the sedges is when they’re in their early stages of growth. At this time, they’re small in size, so you can easily remove them with your hands.
3. Are umbrella plants low maintenance?
Yes, these plants are extremely low maintenance. That’s why they can grow in abundance. All they need is moist soil and a water supply to grow. Hence, many beginners in gardening love to start with these plants.
4. How toxic is the umbrella plant?
The umbrella plant, also known as Schefflera or Octopus tree, is considered toxic to pets and humans if ingested. It contains calcium oxalate crystals which can cause mouth and throat irritation, difficulty swallowing, and vomiting.
It can lead to difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, and kidney failure in severe cases. If you suspect someone or a pet has ingested parts of an umbrella plant, it is recommended to seek medical attention immediately.
As home plants, umbrella sedges are fantastic in their tiny pots. However, if the very same plant starts growing in your yard, it’s alarming. They may ruin all your other plants and take over the whole property.
In conclusion, getting rid of umbrella grass can be a multi-step process that involves physical removal, chemical control, smothering, or a combination of these methods. Preventing regrowth of the umbrella grass involves:
- Removing all above-ground plant material.
- Removing roots.
- Applying mulch.
- Keeping the area weed-free.
- Promoting the growth of desirable plants.
Remember to follow all safety precautions, such as wearing gloves when handling the plants and reading and following the instructions on any chemicals used. With patience and persistence, you should be able to eliminate the umbrella grass from your garden successfully.